Help! My Child Lost an Adult Tooth

What to do about adult tooth loss in kids

Reasons for Adult Tooth Loss in Childhood

Baby teeth have an essential role to play in your child’s oral health and development, but losing them as their adult teeth begin to erupt is a milestone of its own—a sign that your little one is starting to grow up! After all, it’s their adult teeth that will stay with them for their entire life. Adult teeth are built to last, with a thicker layer of protective enamel than baby teeth that makes them more durable. But they’re not immune to damage, either. There are several ways your child can lose an adult tooth, including injury, congenital conditions, and decay. Adult teeth don’t have replacements waiting in the wings like baby teeth do, so what do you do when your child loses one? Don’t worry—you’re not out of options! To help you determine your next steps, we’ve broken down the main reasons children lose adult teeth and what you can do about it.

Adult Tooth Loss By Dental Injury

Kids are often incredibly active from a young age, including well before they’ve perfected their sense of hand-eye coordination, so it’s not uncommon for them to lose an adult tooth through a dental injury. Thanks to modern dentistry, there are plenty of options if your child loses a tooth this way—with prompt treatment, your child’s pediatric dentist may be able to re-implant the tooth!

What to Do Now

If your child’s tooth was knocked out in a single piece, the most important thing you can do is act quickly! The sooner your child gets treated by Dr. Staley, the more likely it is that he will be able to save the tooth. You should immediately find the missing tooth, pick it up by the crown (not the roots), and call Dr. Staley. Transporting the tooth correctly is also essential to give Dr. Staley the best chance of saving it. Rinse the tooth in cool water and then put it back into its socket and give your child a piece of gauze to gently bite down on to keep it in place. If this isn’t possible, immerse it in a container of your child’s saliva or milk while you head for treatment from your dentist in Boise, ID.

Whether the tooth was restored or not, Dr. Staley will send you home with instructions that will help you learn how to care for the area. Encouraging your child to follow these instructions will help them heal faster and reduce their chances of developing complications like an infection.

Near Future

If your child’s tooth was successfully reimplanted, you’ll need to visit Dr. Staley regularly so that he can ensure that it’s healing normally. You can also take steps to reduce the risk that your child will suffer another dental injury in the future. The biggest way you can do this is by having your child wear a mouthguard any time they’re participating in a sport where they’re likely to take a blow to the head, especially contact sports like football, hockey, and soccer. You can also encourage younger children to be careful on playgrounds and discourage them from running in areas they’re likely to fall.

Long Term

Once they’ve healed, teeth that are successfully placed back in their sockets don’t need special treatment aside from a thorough oral hygiene routine. If your child’s adult tooth can’t be saved, however, you’ll need to think about tooth replacement options. Your child can’t receive dental implants until they’ve stopped growing, generally around 18 years old, but dental implants are often the best option—especially for such young patients. The wait for this permanent solution is worth it for many people because they can last a lifetime and look, feel, and function just like natural teeth. Plus, they protect the health of your child’s jaw bone and don’t require otherwise unnecessary dental work on healthy teeth. If your child isn’t done growing yet, they can still get an implant in the future! In the meantime, they may need partial dentures or a space maintainer to replace their missing tooth, preventing their teeth from shifting into the gap.

Adult Tooth Loss By Congenital Conditions

There’s also a range of congenital conditions, which are conditions that are present at birth, that can impact your child’s adult teeth. In some cases, one or more adult teeth simply don’t develop, despite the presence of baby teeth in the affected spots. Other conditions impact tooth enamel or dentin, making teeth more vulnerable to injury and decay and causing them to wear down quickly. Some of these conditions are hereditary, but others are simply due to malformations in the womb.

What to Do Now

If you suspect that your child has a congenital condition that’s impacting their teeth, receiving a diagnosis is a high priority for the immediate future. Knowing this information will help your pediatric dentist give your child’s teeth the care they need and provide you with the advice and resources to take care of them at home. In the meantime, you may fill the gap in your child’s smile with a space maintainer or partial dentures.

Near Future

Once your child’s congenital condition has been identified, your next steps are highly dependent upon what that condition is. If your child simply didn’t develop an adult tooth, you’ll need to see if they have any other adult teeth that haven’t developed and decide on a tooth replacement option. Conditions that impact dental enamel may mean that your child needs to visit Dr. Staley more often than other children for professional cleanings to help prevent decay and to spot signs of it early. Your child may also need fluoride treatments or sealants applied to their teeth regularly to help prevent decay, and will need to stick to a thorough oral hygiene routine.

Long Term

Once your child’s jaw has finished growing, you can look into more permanent dental solutions like dental implants. Conditions that make your child’s natural teeth weak don’t impact the strength of their jaw, so your child is still likely a good candidate for dental implants. They may eventually need more dental treatments like crowns and fillings, so it’s wise to visit Dr. Staley regularly.

Adult Tooth Loss By Decay

Tooth decay and gum disease are both common causes of tooth loss in children and adults. When a tooth faces extreme enough decay to fall out on its own, however, that isn’t the end of it. Your child will need to see Dr. Staley as soon as possible to identify and treat the cause of the decay. Thankfully, there are plenty of tried-and-true ways Dr. Staley can use to restore your child’s oral health.

What to Do Now

If your child’s tooth falls out due to decay, you should call Dr. Staley immediately to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. It’s important to pinpoint the cause of the decay, as issues like gum disease could be affecting other teeth in your child’s mouth, and to identify and treat potential complications like infections. During this appointment, you can also discuss tooth replacement options that your child could benefit from immediately or when they’re done growing.

Near Future

Once your child’s oral health is back on track, it’s incredibly important to begin making changes to daily habits that will keep their teeth and gums healthy. Start your child on a regular oral hygiene routine that includes brushing their teeth with fluoridated toothpaste for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash. You can choose a mouthwash that’s specifically designed to help fight against cavities or gum disease, further helping to address your child’s unique needs. Eating a balanced diet can also significantly improve your child’s oral health. You don’t have to ban sugary or carbohydrate-rich snacks, but do your best to limit them. You might be surprised by the difference these small changes can make!

Long Term

It’s easy to relax new habits as time passes, but it’s very important to stick to your child’s new oral hygiene routine and balanced diet. Flossing is particularly important for preventing gum disease because toothbrushes simply can’t remove plaque from around the gum line or between teeth. You should also schedule a professional cleaning with Dr. Staley every six months. This regular appointment actively helps prevent decay by removing plaque and hardened tartar from your child’s teeth and gives Dr. Staley the chance to spot oral health issues early. Early diagnosis means your child won’t need major treatments in the future and prevents them from losing another tooth!

Losing an adult tooth is far from ideal, but there are plenty of ways that your child can bounce back, restoring the appearance and function of their lost tooth while taking steps to make their teeth and gums healthier than ever! If your child has lost a tooth or if you suspect they’re suffering from decay, you can call our office at any time to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist as soon as possible.